Slow Acting: Part II

March 28, 2011

Gabrielle Scharnitzky offered the most amazing weekend acting workshop I’ve ever attended. The heart of acting is about coming from a pure state of truth. The slow comes in realizing things come more quickly to us, the things we truly desire, when we slow down. When we take time to absorb the moment, our awareness teaches us more than any book, film or other person can. Our inner knowing is housed in our DNA. If we’d only listen.

To cut out the white noise of haste, I screeched my deadline-driven week to a halt. Starting with a Zumba class (think Brazilian hip hop) on Friday evening, I literally danced my way into the weekend. On Saturday morning, I spent two hours on a manuscript, then attended my son’s soccer game only to then have lunch with the family and some quiet time on the couch reading with my husband. The workshop went from 4-10 p.m, whizzing by both days. I left the room a different person. A clearer one who lives in acceptance of what is at any given moment.

The power of slow acting involves breathing deeply and turning the gaze inward. All our answers are there. The challenge is quieting the mind, and the world around you, long enough to hear them.


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One sock at a time

December 9, 2010

Yesterday I had the unique opportunity to do an impromptu coaching session with a young economics student who had a hard time keeping on top of his laundry. We were on set at a soap opera; he played an orderly, I a doctor. While waiting for our walk-on part (which took the better part of the day), he studiously reviewed his University work and appeared non-plussed at the activities around him. The day grew long (and his textbook boring) so we began to chat about The Power of Slow.

His eyes grew bright as he considered the possibility of actually tackling the one thing that seems to beat him down every week.

“Laundry!” he exclaimed. I could see the struggle as he grew tense at the thought of the pile awaiting him at home.

“Think reward system,” I explained. Had I been more clear-headed (we were, after all, seven hours into our waiting on set), I might have used some economic terms to help him understand my point. But he got it anyway as I said he needed to think of the mountain of dirty clothes as an opportunity to reward himself once he tackled some of it.

“I’m not talking the entire thing, here,” I continued with a grin. “We’re looking at grabbing the white wash first, ya’ know?” Sort and toss. I grew animated as I laid out a plan he might consider.

“Tell yourself you’ll just do the whites first, then maybe in two days, the darks. By week’s end you will have gotten down to the bottom of your laundry basket. Reward time!”

He smiled inwardly at the thought.

No matter where we go, we can live the slow. Sometimes all we need is to take it one sock at a time.

How do you break down your work into bite-sized chunks? Share your ideas here. I’d love to know!

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My acting coach gave me a great word of advice.

“Stay in the body.” You see, ever since I was a kid, I’ve had this ability to leave my body pretty much whenever I felt like it. It has to do with growing up in Nature on a farm with no cable. Escape wasn’t easy so I did it with my mind.

I like to say that the South grew my imagination as large as the squash and corn you see on roadside farm stands there. My creative mind that dallies off to faraway places at the drop of a hat has served me well. But acting is a craft that requires the utmost presence.

So when I play a role, I have to reside behind my eyes at all time. She gave me a great exercise that I’d like to pass along to you. Because really, the power of slow is about being present as it is in acting.

The next time you get out of the shower, apply body lotion to every part of yourself. Start with really looking at your toes. Wiggle them and thank them for keeping you balanced. Move up to your ankels, calves and thighs and so on, honoring each part of you for helping you out.

Thanking your body is a novel idea. Aren’t we taught to disengage from that part of ourselves that we’ve learned to hate so much? The body today is seen as something disappointing, dirty or worse, worthless. So as you walk around today, hold your head up a little higher and say a prayer of gratitude that your very noggin carries your imagination with you wherever you go. And remember to stay in your body. It may feel heavier than the escape our minds afford, but it will serve you well as you learn to savor the ever present moment of now.

Take 12 minutes to hear Ben Cameron speak on the healing properties of the arts. Happy Sunday!

BMW 3-Series Commercial

April 2, 2010

My BMW commercial has gone live. It was great fun to be a part of such a great team. A dream acting job! Enjoy!

…and Action!

May 11, 2009

Multitasking is a nightmare for anyone who loves her concentration. Maybe it has something to do with my getting older, but I really like to do one thing well rather than try to do three things at once with less regard for the outcome.

dreamsToday I played a small part on a cop show. It seems every time I do this, I have my scene right before lunch when the crew’s motivation is at its lowest. The camera team seemed sturdy enough, but I could tell the main actors were punchy. The camera would go off, and one of the actors would pick up his cell phone to resume the video game he had been playing all morning. My heart was pounding, my mouth was dry, and I could feel my entire frame shaking. For him it was just another day at the office.

I occasionally play bit parts on TV to keep my life interesting and to guarantee I do at least one thing a day that scares me (somebody wise once said that – it keeps your senses sharp, he claims). So I was astonished when he didn’t turn off his phone, but actually had it in his pocket during filming. Granted, it was a short scene, but I could tell his concentration was pretty low. His heart wasn’t in it. And I felt slightly perplexed by the whole thing.

If your work doesn’t make you jump for joy, why do it? If what you spend most of your time doing is wishing you were somewhere else, why aren’t you?

The actor plays for a hit TV series and seemed to care less. I walked away from the experience realizing not everyone is living his dream. What would the world be like if everyone were?

Just Another Hour…

February 20, 2009

The phone jangled me awake this morning. I decided to sleep in after a massive headache told me I’d better.

The good news is my headache was gone by the time my friend called an hour later. She was calling to tell me she had read about a casting happening for a TV docu-drama on ZDF (think ABC news). She thought I should apply. Curious, I dragged myself out of bed and went to her house to get a copy of  the announcement.

It is great fun to pretend for a few hours. Acting is like being a different person for a while. It tests your limits and allows you to see the world with different eyes. Whether or not the gig works out doesn’t really matter in the end. The neat thing is I tried. And if it doesn’t work, there will be more hours to sleep in!